Alan Biggs: Why that instant promotion is looking a lot more realistic for Sheffield Wednesday
It’s impossible to be anything like certain of promotion on the recruitment of loans and free transfers but then you can’t guarantee it with big signings either.
Sheffield Wednesday can tell you that. What they’ve lacked is a prudence that is still possible on a near-zero budget.And the signs are good, judging from an eye-catching array of captures.It’s professional football wisdom and judgment that enables clubs to be successfully “self-sustainable”, which is quite correctly the new approach at Hillsborough.Signings at whatever level always bring optimism. In Wednesday’s case, some recognisable names of hunger and talent, answering the prime need of lowering the age of the squad.But I think it is the players the club have retained as much as the new ones who hold the key to a return to the Championship.And I have revised my view from mid-summer when I felt this was highly unlikely. That was because of the desperate state of the club as a whole when there was uncertainty for everyone.Now that the place is running at more of an even keel, I feel there is a decent chance of succeeding in what would be a difficult mission even with an accompanying fair wind - as the number of big clubs becalmed in the third tier has shown over the years.But there’s no doubt Wednesday retain a nucleus of proven ability that belongs higher - Barry Bannan, Josh Windass, Callum Paterson, Massimo Luongo, Liam Palmer, Chey Dunkley and several more including Dominic Iorfa, who, fitness permitting, should be more influential than anyone with his speed, athleticism and versatility across the back.There was still a lack of zip, though. Dennis Adeniran, Ayomide Shodipo, Jaden Brown and Lewis Wing have added real freshness, along with loanee keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell. There’s also space for some newly contracted youngsters to swell the numbers.It’s a balance. There’s a reason why Wednesday have been able to sign the players they have, outside of their pulling power as a club.It’s often because others higher up didn’t commit to them. It might be they lack consistency or simply need to drop down to work up again. So you are getting talent to mould rather than guarantees.For that reason, the more experienced players - the ones committed to an act of redemption - will be the guiding force for what happens next.Plus Jack Hunt, whose return on a free was a no-brainer for a popular right back who fetched £1.8m when he left.So that instant promotion is looking a lot more realistic than it did a few weeks ago.